Despite backlash from the Christian community and warnings from evangelical leaders, Disney's "Beauty and the Beast" raked in a record $170 million in its domestic debut and $180m overseas. The film had the seventh-biggest Fri-Sun opening weekend of all time.
Disney's latest live-action film became the subject of controversy after the film's director told the press about an "exclusively gay moment" featuring a character named LeFou.
Many parents opted not to see the film or take their children. Supporters say LeFou's "gay moment" was subtle, but critics say there are multiple gay moments in the movie which expose a broader pro-LGBT agenda.
One parent who saw the film told CBN News she noticed the gay theme along with other themes that she liked.
"We loved it. We did notice the theme. We noticed the theme of renewal and forgiveness and growth and inclusion and diversity,” she said.
Out in California, one moviegoer said he was delighted with that gay theme because it could convince young children that it's ok to be gay.
"I think it's a great idea that little kids are able to see this at a young age," Diego Bobadilla said. "And it could be like, 'It's okay to be gay or lesbian or transgender' or something like that."
On the conservative side, family movie critic and Movieguide publisher Dr. Ted Baehr tells CBN News Disney has "marred" its live-action remake of "Beauty and the Beast."
In his online review of the movie he describes a gay storyline starring LeFou, the effeminate sidekick of villain Gaston. He says it includes "gratuitous politically correct homosexual references that are on the nose, out of place and in your face."
"Though brief, the subplot is so in-your-face and political that it detracts from the main fantasy," Baehr wrote after seeing the film.
In an interview with CBN News, he also described the scene the film's director labeled as an "exclusively gay moment" as "subtle," because there are no explicit gay acts.
"What it is is LeFou is singing the same song that he sang to Gaston before (in the animated movie) with a little wink and a nod. You could take it either way," he said.
But Baehr also describes another scene that points to LeFou's lust for Gaston.
LeFou asks, "What about us?" when Gaston says he intends to marry Belle, the heroine. He later adds that he's determined to "get" Gaston just as Gaston is determined to get Belle.
In addition, Baehr says Disney has created a cross-dressing moment in the movie. It happens when three of Gaston's henchmen are dressed as women and one of them turns to the camera "and is happy about it," Baehr said.
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The movie critic told CBN News he thinks Disney might regret publicizing its "exclusively gay moment."
"I think they originally started out doing this as a publicity stunt but it's backfired on them because some of the people in the movie have used it as a platform for their own political agenda and that's going to hurt them," said Baehr.
Director Bill Condon began the controversy when he described a "nice, exclusively gay moment" in the movie to a European gay lifestyle magazine and then later told USA Today it was a "wonderful gay moment."
Baehr says Disney would be wise to remember that Christians are still a sizeable audience.
"One hundred and seventeen million people go to church every week," he told CBN News, adding that only 20 million go to the movies every week.
Evangelist Franklin Graham has called on Christians to send a message by skipping the movie, and 130,000 people signed an on-line petition urging a boycott.
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COVERAGE FROM CBN NEWS: